How to Repurpose Glass Jars
Here’s some trivia for you-
What do the following items have in common: Jelly, marinara sauce, Dijon mustard, salsa, mayonnaise, olives, and BBQ sauce.
If you guessed flavor profiles…you’re wrong (perhaps a master chef could pull that off?). The common thread is that they are often sold in glass jars.
If you think jars are nothing to get excited about, you’re also wrong! I will admit to occasionally spending a little extra cash at the grocery store for an item that sold in glass rather than plastic. Why you ask? I’ll tell you. I hardly ever throw away a glass jar.
In this post I’ll show you how you can fall in love with glass jars too. Mason jars are super on trend at the moment (and for good reason), but before you go out and buy a case of brand new jars, consider those that are already holding condiments in your fridge and pantry. There are so many lovely glass vessels just begging to be reused! There are more uses for them than you might think. Here are a few of my favorites:
Flower Vases + Plants
Jars make for wonderful vases for both flowers and plant cuttings. In our apartment I have two mature Pothos plants from which I have taken many cuttings and submerged them in water.
Clippings from Pothos plants can thrive in water alone without ever needing to be planted in dirt, after some time the clipping will begin to form it’s own complex root system under water, allowing for continual growth of the plant. It’s quite a site to see. They are a lush shade of green, require absolutely no maintenance, and last longer than any bouquet of flowers ever will.
Speaking of bouquets, up-cycled glass jars also make lovely vases. I like to keep the labels on my jars if they are appealing to the eye. There is something interesting about a bouquet of Coronations in a shapely glass jar which once held strawberry preserves, as shown below.
Note: If you prefer a clean look, just fill your sink up with hot soapy water and plug the stopper in. Let your labeled jars take a nice long overnight bath. By the next day, the labels should peel off with ease. Any lingering residue can be easily wiped away with rubbing alcohol or “Goo-be-Gone.”
Salad Dressings + Sauces
If you’re a fan of making your own salad dressing, glass jars (and their lids) are essential. There are a number of delicious dressings that can be made simply by placing ingredients in a jar, screwing the lid on, and shaking vigorously. Many of the cookbooks on my suggested list have recipes for dressings. If you are interested in a book that focuses on dressings alone, I highly recommend “Best Dressed.”
Another great use for glass jars is to use the jar to make your dressing in without rinsing it out. For instance, the bits stuck to the side of your Dijon mustard jar will be wonderful mixed with some olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Just add the additional elements to the jar. The mustard will mix with the rest of the ingredients as you shake. Voila!
When packing my lunch for work during the week, I use the tiny glass jars from complementary jellies that are given freely at hotel buffets and some restaurants. These jars are the perfect size for holding one serving of salad dressing and fit conveniently in the same container as my salad.
Use clean glass jars for storage in your fridge. There are many veggies and herbs that keep nicely in jars. Green onions, or scallions, for instance, will stay crisp for up to two weeks when they are kept upright in a glass jar. Asparagus spears, parsley, and cilantro can be stored the same way.
In addition, whenever I make homemade broth, I store them in large jars from the Vegeniase we have used up. These large containers are the perfect size to hold several cups of broth and can even be placed in the freezer (be sure not to fill them all the way to the top if freezing). One helpful tool for storing large amounts of liquid into a jar is to invest in a set of funnels, so you don’t end up with a mess all over the floor.
Ever opened a can of tomato sauce for a recipe but didn’t need to use the entire can? It is not safe to store leftovers in the aluminum cans for food safety reasons. Instead, store the leftovers in your trusty stash of glass jars.
Jars are also great way to help streamline your pantry. Many pantry items such as grains, seeds, nuts, dried fruit etc. come in bags that can be difficult to store neatly; enter jars. There are pistachios, pumpkin seeds, and dried cranberries in jars in my small pantry right now. I don’t mind keeping labels on my jars, I like the quirky look of it, but you might prefer to soak the labels off of the jars for pantry use, so that you may clearly see what is inside. (Or, If you want immediate results without soaking, use “Goo Be Gone.”) Jars are easy to stack, and store in rows, making your pantry more neat by default.
Kitchen Re-Grow Experiments
My last suggestion for glass jar usage is to start your own re-grow station in a sunny spot in your kitchen. Green onions, romaine lettuce, celery…and many more items can be regrown in glass jars. Once root systems form, they can be placed in the dirt for continual growth. This is a fun way to be more proactive about reducing food waste, and it looks super cool too. Win, win.
There you have it! Are you ga-ga for glass jars yet? I hope so. I would love to hear how you’re re-using your jars, and if you have a use for jars that I didn’t mention, drop me a line, and let me know!